Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pinterest to Reality : Project 01 : TV tokens

I've said it before and I'll say it again - Pinterest has been a fantastic source of inspiration for me. And even better, it's been a great way to remember the craft projects I want to make, recipes I want to try and activities I want to do with the kids. People seem to use Pinterest in all kinds of different ways. I'm also using it to keep track of my own Christmas wish list for my Secret Santa. I'll write about that tomorrow.

But pinning all of those ideas doesn't mean much if you don't do anything with it. Well, unless you just like to look a cool things, which is totally fine! ;) I myself like to do something about it, and modify those ideas into something that will work for me. I call it "Pinterest to Reality"

My first project to share came from this pin. Laurel from Ducks in a Row had made these technology tickets for her kids to limit the amount of TV, video games, computer time, etc. they get each week. Cool idea!
Of course, Morgan (3) and Parker (1) aren't really old enough to enjoy much more than an occasional television show. One thing I am conscious of is that the TV is not on just for background noise. As soon as anyone loses interest in what they are watching and walks away, I turn the TV off and sometimes turn on some music instead.

With the impending cold weather, that means more time in the house, which means more boredom and probably more requests to watch Yo Gabba Gabba, Dora, Diego, or whatever. I decided to nip it in the bud before the whining for "more" even starts, so I made TV tokens.
Using craft supplies I already had, I made Morgan these tokens with chipboard circles, letter stickers and jumbo bottle caps. They sit in a small cup on our kitchen counter and whenever she asks to watch a show, I ask her to get me a token. One token = one show (typically 20-25 minutes long). She gets four a day, and like Laurel did, we reserve the right to say no (like when she wants a show right before bed, or if she just watched one). I also reserve the right to say yes when the cup is empty, it's 5pm, it's been a long/hard/whiny day, I'm home alone and I want to get them out of the kitchen so I can make dinner without getting pushed/stepped on/tugged/yelled at. Yes, there are plenty of activities I could have them do that don't involve screen time. I have lots of those pinned too and those are often my first resort. It really depends on the day and my mood and the intensity of my headache. ;)

We are lucky that Morgan is very active in her television watching. She likes to get up and sing, dance and jump. She doesn't just sit there like a slug and zone out. Usually. Nick Jr. and PBS are our favorites and we keep a variety of shows recorded on the DVR or use On Demand. Other than not seeing commercials, watching a recording is a big help in fending off the request for "one more" because once the recording stops, it's back to the family room to play. We will have to figure out how to enforce the token usage when Parker is old enough to ask for it. Right now, he is happy enough to sit right next to his sister and watch without any arguments.

This little system is working really well. Some days she uses them all up, some days she doesn't. When they are gone, she knows she doesn't get any more TV until tomorrow when her cup is magically refilled with four more tokens.

Do you have any systems in place, or ideas for keeping track of your toddler or preschoolers TV habits? (No hating please - I know this can be a touchy subject that can range from allowing no TV at all to leaving the TV on all day long. What works for one mommy doesn't always work for another and I am not here to judge, just help.)


  1. Jack didn't watch any tv until 2, and very little until 2.5. we don't even have a tv, but he watches shows on netflix. now, he's addicted and throws major tantrums if we say no. :( we were going to get rid of netflix and just deal with the consequences, but then we all got sick and he's been watching more than ever.

  2. It's hard enough when the kids are sick, but it's a whole 'nother ballgame when mommy is sick and there is a newborn in the house too. Hope everyone is feeling better soon! :(

  3. You can help your children making good use of bottle caps, like this they can increase their skills and it is good for their interest too.